Cultural secession?

People of our community — people of stout hearts and good sense — have registered that, by acting cooperatively, we can stop behaving as collaborators in what has come to be our own oppression.

The slow realization has dawned at last: We are a self-sufficient and hardy people who are fed up with the virtual pretenders to lawful authority in our once-great land. Despite the political and economic infrastructure — which behaves as a virtual outlaw regime — the people can reclaim most of what is rightly theirs simply by treating one another as is seemly, and acting in our shared best interests (as opposed to the rapacious way the powers that be treat the citizenry).

A spirit has arisen among our community members that we should have less truck with confiscatory taxation, oppressive laws, and overzealous, selective law enforcement. In general, we demand less invasiveness into our lives by those renegade powers. Folks are feeling a bit raw in their hind parts at what has become, shall we say, too rapacious an interaction ‘twixt us and the excesses of the entrenched power structure? There’s a growing feeling in our community that — since God Almighty only asks a tithe of 10 percent — why should a highly questionable bunch that pretends to legitimacy devour so much more of the citizenry’s substance?

The emphasis in our community — early in this 21st century — is on sustainability, and many sense intuitively that the best course to ensure our own thriving is for folks to learn proper and effective interaction. Love your neighbor or not, but it’s in your own and your neighbor’s mutual best interest to watch out for each other’s butts. Hang tough, play fair, and never yield a right. Be quick to ‘fess up, if wrong. This is respect. It is seemly; it works.

This writer has noted — with mounting horror, year after year — the increasingly militarized treatment of citizens by those nasty ol’ (you guessed it) powers that be. It seems we have come to live under de facto martial law. The coup was accomplished unnoticed; after all, how could it have happened if nobody announced it on TV?

But we, the people of this community, flatly reject all that! We believe what our own eyes plainly tell us is being perpetrated right in our faces — not what national and multinational corporate-media interests feed us. Let’s face it — a medium in which one can instantly switch from what purports to be the daily news over to Star Trek — with the mere flick of a remote control — seems, by definition, a suspect source!

A groundswell of gnarly ire has arisen, and many people now feel compelled to wrest their own lives and lifestyles back from the whims and whimsy of virtual overseers. Some do it nonviolently, some merely play, and some may best be described as Aggressive Slackers — those willing to go way out of their way to avoid collaborating in their own oppression.

In fact, these “pains in the butt” can often do a pretty fair job of impeding that oppression, simply by being way too “helpful.” Picture this, for instance: One of our horse-mounted police, in hot pursuit of a suspected skateboarder (or other terrorist), asks a bystander, “Which way did he go?” And, by way of answer, gets painfully slow, vague directions to Hickory! Remember the fun attending last year’s simple disinformation campaign (which dared to suggest that some citizens might actually have the nerve to ride their bicycles to Pack Square)? You may remember it as Critical Mass 2, or what I like to think of as “the people’s right to peaceably assemble, attended only by the police.” But, as local poet/free-thinker-at-large Brett noted, when I expressed my regret at having missed that particular non-event, “That’s the whole point, Rod: Nobody showed up!” (Gawd, I hate it when Brett makes me feel foolish!)

So what can we do to enable us to live in — but not be of — the world of the polluters and politicos?

We can keep a clean slate with the self-appointed overseers of our most basic rights! Granted, some minimal economic interaction seems unavoidable — and so, of necessity, we render to the regime what is the regime’s. We mean no harm and intend no disrespect to those who don’t agree with the unspoken, but clearly understood, values we share.

Independent-minded citizens are not some criminal gang. In fact, such folks often form interconnecting concentricities — circles intersecting circles (a form of “free state,” if you will, yet within the boundaries allowed by the power structure). Such interactions by many fine citizens can bring us good air and water, and even food that’s untainted by the mutated monsters genetically engineered by the corporate food producers. Because a natural consequence of independent thinking is what could be called “cultural secession.” Maintaining a hen house — rather than buying eggs at the store — is simple, sustainable, sensible and predates supermarket shopping by thousands of years! Ever wonder why?

The tragedy is that there’s virtually no dialogue between these apparently diametrically opposed, yet coexistent, cultures. The credibility gap between the authoritarians and those who no longer trust them has been made abundantly clear to me, during the last year or so; there no longer seems any point in trying to be more participatory. Yet we must have respectful, mutual coexistence; without it, the wagons circle ever more tightly.

Still, out of this mutual butt-covering by free-thinking folks, a fledgling mutual-support system has developed — more like an old-fashioned barn raising than any form of economic or financial system. Good will cannot be taxed! There can be no fine or legal penalty for saying, “No!” to foul air and water. We will not sit by moronically unaware of or compliant with the continued acid-air rape, resulting in more disgraces like the dead crown of Mount Mitchell! We want our Smoky Mountains to keep the natural haziness for which they were named, and we will not see it willfully replaced by toxic smog!

Commonality among individualists might seem a contradiction, except that it exists — and it works. The most visible and productive innovators our society produces have become a people unto themselves. They are confident, and (slowly, slowly, inch by inch) they’re gaining ground — the very same ground on which we all must walk.

[Rodney Personette lives in Asheville.]

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